All Blacks back Rene Ranger has secured an early release from his contract with French club Montpellier and will play for the Blues in Super Rugby next season.
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has confirmed that the 28-year-old will return mid-2015 and will link up with North Harbour.
Family reasons are the main motivation for Ranger – who has six Test caps – to quit the French club coached by former Springbok mentor Jake White but he is also looking to break back into the All Blacks squad.
Ranger left New Zealand in mid-2013 to join Montpellier, for whom he has scored six tries in 15 games. Blues coach Sir John Kirwan said Ranger wanted to come back almost as soon as he left and White was happy to grant his request.
"He’s a classy player with the ability to surprise and that makes him a favourite of fans," NZR chief executive Steve Tew said in a statement.
Ranger said he hoped his experience in France would make him an asset for the Blues, who are winless this year after three rounds.
"They are a quality side, but execution is letting them down so far," he said.
"Hopefully I can play a positive role because backs get excited with the sort of front-foot ball the Blues are getting.
"I will come home a better rugby player. I am mentally stronger and I’ve learned a lot that I can bring back into the Blues environment."